When Sara was talking on social media about her book, Wolf Among Sheep, I didn’t even wait for her to ask for people to help her signal boost it, I raised my hand and offered her a spot on this blog. I did it because Sara is a good friend of a good friend. Because she and I went through a similar tricky and emotional situation a while back. Because she has a novel coming out with WWP soon. But mostly I did it because I like her writing.
I haven’t read Wolf Among Sheep yet, but the ARC is sitting on my ereader, burning a hole in my imagination and shining like a streetlamp in the middle of nowhere. I’ve got a list of tasks I need to complete and then I get to read it. As a reward. And I’d like to think that would make her smile, because c’mon. Who doesn’t want their hard work to be someone else’s reward? I know I do!
So without any further rambling, here is Sara Dobie Bauer talking about her novella, Wolf Among Sheep, which is available from Hot Ink Press!
Wolf Among Sheep
by Sara Dobie Bauer
People ask me all the time about my “writing process,” as if this is some great mystery that, when solved, will make me seem less crazy. They want to know if I outline, if I always know the ending, or (in the case of my new novella) how I make sex scenes sensual as opposed to awkward and gross.
Writing great sex is a whole other issue unto itself, but in regards to my “process,” I have one simple answer: character. I don’t want to sound schizophrenic, but some mornings, I wake up with someone new in my head. This person, man or woman, demands I write them down, to which I always respond, “Well. Where would you like to go?”
In the case of a certain Mr. Avery Collins, he requested I send him to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1909. I could see him clearly. I could hear his dwindled Southern accent, mangled by time spent in New York. I could smell his cigarettes.
Even though Avery thought he was a man of the world, I knew he wasn’t. I knew if I let him go to Charleston and meet Vonnie and Timothy Duke, things were going to get out of hand. I told him as much, but characters never listen.
My novella, Wolf Among Sheep, was born because, one morning, Avery Collins showed up in my head (and my bed, I guess) and said “WRITE ME.” Just released by Hot Ink Press, Wolf Among Sheep is darker than my usual fare. There are moments of levity—and plenty of passion—but more so, I ask the question: How far would you go to get exactly what you wanted?
The novella is now available from Amazon. Read it, if you dare. Make friends with my darling Avery … but I wouldn’t get too attached. You never know what can happen when lustful obsession rules the darkened alleys of the American south.
An excerpt: Wolf Among Sheep
By Sara Dobie Bauer
Timothy Duke opens the door. “Avery. How good of you to come.”
This is the first time I’ve heard him speak. No accent, not really. More so a careful training of his mouth to sound posh: crisp consonants, tightened vowels. He has shaved his blond moustache since the party. He seems more alive, more alert. He doesn’t wear a suffocating suit but, instead, a dark red robe over a white dress shirt and dark slacks. His feet are, strangely, bare.
I expect the quiet laughter and murmured conversation of a private party, but there is nothing but the crackle of wood in the massive fireplace before me … and silence. Everything about the suite is massive, really: the high ceilings, wide windows, plush furniture. I see, through a partially opened door, a canopy bed, swathed in decadent layers of cream-colored fabric. The bed is unmade.
“Drink?” he asks.
“What’s your pleasure?” He puts his hand on my shoulder as he passes.
Timothy smiles. “Vonnie guessed that about you.”
“Forgotten me already?”
That voice of hers feels like ocean waves caressing naked feet. Now, her hand is on my shoulder, too, but she walks past me and reclines, shamelessly, across a couch the color of merlot. She’s in a white silk robe and what I suspect is nothing more than her bedclothes. My ears feel warm.
Timothy hands me a double pour of scotch. “Sit,” he says.
I don’t want to sit. Feels too permanent. I look around the room. “Am I early?”
Veronique Duke—Vonnie—laughs. Her black hair is down, free around her shoulders. “No.”
“The invitation said small get together.”
“This is small.” She licks the edge of her mouth. Her husband hands her a glass of champagne and sits at her feet.
I take a long, long sip of scotch. “My editor will give you a feature story in the society column, if you’d like. I can write about your coffee trade, Mr. Duke, and the new roasting techniques you’ve brought to East Bay.”
“He thinks he’s here for an interview, Timothy.”
“Why don’t you sit down, Avery? Tell us about yourself.”
“I am of no interest, Mrs. Duke.”
“Well, I think you’re interesting,” she says. “Are you engaged, dear?”
“Why is that funny?” she asks. She runs her free hand through the front of her long hair and lets the rest of it fall in shining, mocha tresses over the arm of the couch.
“I’m not …” My brow furrows as I look out through the open windows—a perfect view of the nearby church steeple, the black sea beyond.
“You don’t like talking about yourself.”
“I write about other people, ma’am.”
Even though her light eyes are on me, her fingers play with the hair on the back of her husband’s head. They both recline, so comfortable, unlike the upper class I’ve met in Charleston. I can see why they are exotic, two characters out of Arabian Nights, lounging. I wait for a naked servant to arrive with grapes and palm fronds for fans.
“Won’t you sit, Avery?” she says.
I finish my scotch. “I feel I may have misconstrued your invitation, Mrs. Duke. I was under the impression I was here as a journalist.”
She leans up and puts her feet on the carpet. “Why not be our guest?”
“I am not often the guest of people like you. Thank you for the scotch. If you’ll excuse me.”
“Timothy.” She pouts, and her husband moves.
He is a coffee bean sales merchant, Timothy Duke, yet when he stands, he has the bearing of a street thug: tall and broad. If not for the careful haircut and clean teeth, he would have been an imposing figure in a dark alley. I take a step backwards, for some reason expecting to be struck.
Timothy puts his hands on the sides of my arms and whispers, “Stay. Vonnie, another scotch.” He circles me. I feel his thumbs inside the collar of my suit jacket, and he begins to pull the fabric from my shoulders as his wife drifts to refill my glass. Along with her comes again the foreign floral scent of her perfume.
Timothy can’t remove my jacket, not fully, as my left hand still holds an empty rocks glass, which Vonnie refills. Then, she leans so close I taste her sweet breath on my tongue.
“Have you ever enjoyed the attentions of a man, Avery?” she whispers.
A pair of soft, warm lips presses against the skin behind my ear: Timothy. I shudder and sidestep them both. I finish the scotch in one shot and shrug back into my suit jacket. “I’m sorry, I must … Thank you for the scotch.”
I don’t look back as I leave. I shut the door tightly and walk down a hall filled with gilded mirrors and watercolor representations of crashing waves. I wait for the elevator and only then realize my hands are curled into fists.
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is the author of Life without Harry, Forever Dead, and Wolf Among Sheep. World Weaver Press will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, this summer.